I’m beginning to think that a consistent sleep schedule is more for the sake of the parent rather than the child.
In fact, I feel as though I’ve just discovered the Holy Grail of parenting 101: PUT YOUR KID TO BED AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE.
At the beginning of this week, (after we were almost hit by 3 tornados), Jesse and I had a heart to heart about why we’re the last people on the face of the earth to sleep train our kid:
1. Neither Jesse or I are “schedule people”. Heck, we barely make it anywhere on time. We wanted to ask ourselves if it was really realistic, as parents, to put our kid on a schedule, because what that really means is that we are putting ourselves on a schedule. And neither of us are fans of things that we start but don’t follow through with.
2. Our day-to-day routine is never the same. For the past 6 months, Jesse has gone to work at a different time every morning of the week! This also means he gets home at a different time every evening. My piano schedule varies day to day as well. So we are used to “playing things by ear”.
3. Whenever we have tried to force/schedule G into doing anything, we’ve all wound up screaming and miserable. Yes, all of us.
But we decided to bite the bullet and go for it. G has been cranky during the day, mostly, from what I can tell, due to tiredness. I’ve read so much about recent links between the rise in ADD and lack of sleep in children, and I’ve really noticed this to be true with G already. When he’s tired, he’s manic, hyper, and can’t focus on anything for more than a few seconds. I can’t imagine what years of this would do to a kid!
Jesse and I were also tired of spending an hour or more every night, consoling a cranky screaming baby, practically on our hands and knees BEGGING him to sleep. We wondered if he wasn’t so tired and stressed out in the first place, if it would really be that hard to get him to sleep?
So, starting this last Thursday, Jesse and I posed a grand experiment, venturing into the vastly unknown (to us) world of Sleep Training.
1. To have G in bed by 8:30 pm. No later.
2. To have him sleep the whole night, waking only once to nurse.
3. To capture time together in the evenings, baby-free.
How did our experiment turn out so far? Read on!
Thursday, Day 1:
Between 7:30-8pm, I actually bathed G while cooking dinner at the same time! It worked, because he was super absorbed with his water toys, and because I could actually keep one hand on his back while flipping the chicken in the frying pan. Jesse got home at 8:20 pm and immediately put G in his pjs and heavy super-soaker cloth diaper (so absorbent, it could contain a can of soda!), I nursed him one more time, and then, voila! G was swaddled and in bed.
Except for…he was not happy. Screaming, would be more accurate, in fact. After a brief argument, Jesse convinced me that letting him “cry it out” just one night wasn’t going to hurt things. We’ve never tried it, and we wanted to see what he would do. We watched the clock. After 10 minutes, Jesse went and patted him on the back for 5. 10 more minutes later, G was asleep. ASLEEP. Soothed himself to sleep.
Whew. That wasn’t too bad! Less than 1/2 hr. of crying! The real test, however, was how long would he sleep?
We found out at 6am, when he cried for the first time. I nursed him, and he napped with Jesse and I in our bed until we all woke up for good around 9am.
Result? G slept non-stop from 9pm-6am, and then again from 6:20am-9am. Pretty sweet, no???
Friday, Day 2:
Jesse and I bathed G together at 8pm. Once again, Jesse changed him into his clothes and I gave him his last feeding of the night. This time, Jesse was able to rock/coax him to sleep in less than 20 minutes.
Once again, G did not awake until just before 6am. Since G and I were taking Jesse to work (yes, poor guy had to work 8-12pm on a Saturday!), we all got up at 7am.
Result: G slept non-stop from 8:30pm-6am, then napped until 7am.
Saturday, Day 3:
Jesse and I bathed G at 8pm. G had his last nursing, but I could tell he didn’t get much, mainly because he was really distracted. I knew that he would probably wake sooner, mostly due to hunger.
Sure enough, Gregory woke up at 2am, hungry as a lion. Once I was done nursing him, however, Jesse took him right back to his crib, where he slept until 6am. After I nursed him, we all napped together until it was time to get up for church at 8am.
Result: G slept non-stop from 8pm-2am, then from 2:20am-6am, then 6:20am-8am. Not as good, but okay in our book!
Sunday, Day 4:
This was to be my first night putting G to bed by myself! Jesse and Michael were invited over to Clay’s house to “work up a good confession” by drinking beers and smoking cigars with the boys. Of course I wanted him to go, but I was more than a little afraid that our whole schedule was going to fall apart. I’m not very strong when it comes to resisting G’s cries…plus, he’d only had 2-3 tiny naps while on the go today. Sundays are hard, especially when we choose to do anything after church (in this case, Jenny and I hit a HUGE sale at The Gap while Jesse’s Parish Council meeting was going on).
At around 6pm, G was already super super crabby and tired. I decided, however, that I was going to hold him off until at least 7:00. We barely made it– I had to constantly play with him in an effort to distract him from his whining. He enjoyed his bath, but the second I pulled him out to dress him, he started what we call the “CPS Scream”. He didn’t stop the entire time I was dressing and diapering him.
Finally, when I went to nurse him at 7:30, he calmed down. In fact, he fell asleep while eating! All I did was pull the ole “switcheroo” with his pacifier, and put him in the crib. Done. Asleep by 7:45 pm. Like magic.
All in all, this seems to be working beautifully. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!
There are downsides, of course, such as the fact that at least one of us will have to remain home after 8pm from now on. Or at least for a few weeks, until things become solidified.
But the upsides are great, as evidenced last night. Jesse and I were able to enjoy a quiet evening together, eating cheese ravioli and drinking a yummy Spanish wine we bought at Central Market. Afterwards, we watched The Black Swan and discussed it together. All without having to care for a baby! It was nice to have a date night together.